Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops as a result of the nerve damage due to some underlying disease. It is important to understand that peripheral neuropathy is not a disease itself but the symptom of the certain disease that is effecting your body. The underlying disease can affect one or more nerves at the same time, causing changes in the sensory, motor and autonomic nerves.
Some conditions, such as diabetes, can affect all three types of nerves.
- Sensory nerves (the nerves that control sensation) causing cause tingling, pain, numbness, burning, itching, etc.
- Motor nerves (the nerves that allow power and movement) causing weakness in the feet and hands, loss of balance, muscle cramping and twitching.
- Autonomic nerves (the nerves that control the systems of the body(e.g. gut, bladder) causing changes in the heart rate and blood pressure or sweating.
Peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes is one of the most common form of neuropathies. Diabetic neuropathy is a result of the microvascular complications affecting nerves in an ascending manner. This means that the nerve endings furthest from he brain will be affected first. In a lot of diabetic neuropathies complications would be first noticeable in toes, feet and than the hands. Changes in the nerve endings will affect sensation, leading to pain, muscle weakness, balance and can even interfere with sleep patterns. Lack of sensation can be a cause of falls, foot ulcerations and amputations.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy will depend on the nerve involved and the level of damage sustained. One of the most common symptoms are:
- Numbness, tingling, pins and needles,
- Hot/Burning sensation,
- Abnormally sensitive skin,
- Electric shock pain,
- Generalized pain,
- Muscle weakness,
- Loss of balance
Neuropathy will generally worsen over time and it can lead to further complications and more pronounced symptoms.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by many different medical conditions or physical traumas. In some cases, a specific cause cannot be identified and neuropathies with no known cause are know as idiopathic. Common causes are:
- Alcohol and nutritional deficiencies
- Infections (HIV, Lyme disease)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Physical injury
- Complications from surgery
- Medications (especially chemotherapy)
Peripheral neuropathy treatment plan should be focusing on treating the underlying cause of the neuropathy, control the symptoms and slowing or stopping it from getting worse. Current therapy for peripheral neuropathy pain and symptoms are different classes of oral medications, including anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids. There is about 12 different drugs that are being routinely prescribed, trying to manage pain and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Unfortunately, most of them have significant side effects and provide minimal symptomatic relief.
In our clinic we offer a comprehensive peripheral neuropathy treatment program that combines new treatment protocols with state of the art equipment. We offer a latest treatment modality to resolve and diminish nerve pain symptoms associated with diabetic and other peripheral neuropathies. This treatment is know as the Combination Electrochemical Treatment (CET).
The CET consist of two procedures, infiltration with local anaesthetic and use of Electronic Signal Treatment, delivered by sophisticated electro medical wave generator. This is an FDA approved medical device that has cleared clinical indication of use to stimulate peripheral nerves for the purpose of providing relief, increasing blood circulation and management of long term chronic intractable pain.
The electro medical wave generator is different from any other electrical stimulator having the ability to use both low frequency (less than 2000Hz) and a medium frequency (2000-100000 Hz). It can deliver pulses in the range from 8000-10000 pulses per second unlike TENS machines that can only deliver 1-250 pulses per second. This difference causes a long lasting pain signal interruption and longer cell depolarization, putting the cell into a rest, promoting healing. New research suggests that the damaged nerves could start the healing process if we can reinitiate a proper nerve function.
Both, clinical evidence and research have showed that CET treatments in diabetic peripheral and other peripheral neuropathy patients have shown motor function improvement, reduction of neuropathic symptoms, reversal of pain, increase in strength and balance and improve quality of life. In a two-year clinical study using CET protocol 80% of patients got better, with significant reduction in pain and symptoms due to peripheral neuropathy.
In order to prevent or to slow down the progression of peripheral neuropathy patients are encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Making sure that blood sugar levels are within normal range, maintaining optimal weight, exercising, eating a balanced diet, correcting vitamin deficiencies, and avoiding alcohol consumption can make a significant difference.
Like many other conditions it is important to treat peripheral neuropathy as soon as possible but it is never too late to begin the treatment and improve your quality of life.
- Odell RH, Sorgnard RE. New device combines electrical currents and local anesthetic for pain management. Practical Pain Management. 2011; 11(6):52-68
- Cernak C, Marriott E, Martini J, Fleischmann J. Electric current and local anesthetic combination successfully treats pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. Practical Pain Management. 2012; 12(3):23-36.
- Cernak C, Odell RH, Carney P. Guest lecture presented to Association of Extremity Neurosurgeons, Houston, November, 2013.
- Odell RH, Zhan Z. Clinical outcomes utilizing the Combined Electrochemical Treatment for peripheralneuropathy: a retrospective study from a western clinic. Submitted for publication to Practical Pain Management.